Your stardom doesn’t always depend on mass popularity. It also depends on the norms set by so-called experts and the standards set by the big names in a largely closed film industry driven by nepotism.
Don’t believe us? Well, just look at Mithun Chakraborty. The man is literally a part of the popular culture and enjoys incredible popularity in the countryside even today. But he never got the big star tag from a closed industry. Rather, he was a victim of elite prejudice being referred to as poor man’s Amitabh Bachchan and auto-rickshaw driver’s hero.
Mithun- an ‘outsider’ who made it big in Bollywood
Born as Gouranga in a lower-middle-class Bengali family, Mithun did not have much to do with the film industry.
In fact, as a youth, Mithun was swayed by the Naxalite movement. But after a tragedy struck his family when his brother died in an accident, Mithun decided to dump Naxalite ideology. Due to a police crackdown, Mithun even had to remain in hiding for some time.
In fact, the popular actor told journalist Ali Peter John that his name had reached Bombay (now Mumbai) even before he reached there.
Mithun had said, “People in the industry and outside it knew all about my involvement with the Naxalite movement in Calcutta and my close links with Charu Mazumdar, the fiery leader of the Naxalites. I had quit the movement after there was a tragedy in my family, but the label of being a Naxalite moved with me wherever I went, whether it was the FTII in Pune or when I came to Bombay in the late seventies.”
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Mithun’s dream run in Bollywood
Mithun wasted no time in making a mark as an actor. He won a National Film Award for Best Actor for his debut movie in 1976- Mrinal Sen’s Mrigayaa.
Mithun Chakraborty relished stardom throughout the 1980s and 1990s. But Mithun’s big moment came in his 1982 movie Disco Dancer. The movie was legendary for it unveiled the actor’s pelvic dance moves that remain popular even today.
Starting with ‘I am a disco dancer’, Mithun unveiled his disco moves on many such numbers. He single-handedly introduced disco fashion in the country and started the trend of dancing in the Indian film industry.
His dance moves were loved everywhere- even in Europe, the Middle East, the USSR, and Africa. When then USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev visited India and Rajiv Gandhi introduced him to Amitabh Bachchan, Gorbachev said that his daughter knew only Mithun Chakraborty.
And this is just one film that we are talking about. This one movie alone made him the ‘Disco King’ and ‘Grand Master’.
Mithun- the ‘outsider’ who was not allowed to shine
Mithun Chakraborty remains a marvellous actor. He has worked in Hindi, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Odia, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Punjabi movies, apart from working in Hindi movies.
He has the unique distinction of playing a double role in 19 movies. More importantly, he has a Limca Record for 19 film releases as a lead actor in a single year. Throughout his career, the actor has won three National Awards and two Filmfare Awards.
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And the incredible popularity that Mithun continues to enjoy really displays his charisma when he was at the peak of his career. Mithun is one of the greatest stars, but he is not allowed to shine simply because he is an ‘outsider’.